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Ted Eschliman

I'm tired.

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We recently made the decision to discontinue selling TI strings on the JazzMando site. Not because they are bad strings, frankly, I consider them the best string on the market (even slightly superior to my own proprietary JM Flatwounds), but I don't use them myself because of the high price. We were happy selling them for nearly five years, but with the growth of the accessory offerings we feature, (mandolin, e-mando, dola, soon 5-string, cloths, picks, books), I was spending more time being a mail clerk than doing the things I like, for example practicing and writing articles.

I like selling small accessories because it does garner me a new arena of influence and connection I might not otherwise receive if JazzMando were an information-only service. Not everybody wants (or thinks they want) knowledge; sometimes they just want stuff. If they accidentally discover some of the articles and information will do them some good (as many have), they might dig deeper into the site. Better, they might tell their friends about That's why I'm willing to sacrifice the time on the JazzMando merchandise "branding." We've made many connections all over the world. This morning I sent a package to Finland, and we've shipped to Australia, Japan, Israel, Brazil, and a dozen other countries, as well as across the US. We make a little bit of money, but the meager profits (after Uncle Sam gets his share) amount to about $3 an hour. The big motivation is the promotion of the legitimacy of alternate mandolin activity, products that encourage warm, rich tone over banjo-spanking clamor, supplies that make an instrument last, and of course a method book that "changes lives."

My day starts at 4:45 AM. I get up, feed the dogs and begin to write articles and answer correspondence. Then I go through the orders, and that can take a half an hour, which cuts into my personal practice time. The finite minutes I have between this and heading off to my "day gig" have me jealous for my own edification time. Sometimes, I don't even have time at all to practice, if I have a mandosessions deadline, or review to finalize.

So recently, I'm asked through our comment/feedback feature by someone indignantly upset by the recent TI change, "How do you go from selling the most Thomastik mandolin strings to not selling them at all?" All I could think of for a response is "I'm tired." Good as they are, TI's don't perpetuate the mission of the site, and there are a lot of other good companies out there selling them at prices cheaper than I ever could. The selfish decision to start curbing my shipping clerk time for personal practice has me thinking about the way I balance my time in other things too. Our time on this earth is limited, and we want to make the best of these mortal hours.

I came to the realization several years ago that I'm never going to be a great player. There aren't enough hours in my day to be the next Mike Marshall or Don Stiernberg (even if I had their talent to begin with). I do have the gift of explaining things, better than the average bear, so that's where I need to put my time if I'm going to be an effective world citizen. Still, I do like to invest my private time in getting better on my instruments, and I'm feeling the pressures and limitations of time to get it all done.

Plus, I'm tired.

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  1. Daniel Nestlerode's Avatar
    Bravo Ted. Life is short. Live it without regret.

    Updated Jul-11-2009 at 10:12pm by Daniel Nestlerode (spelling)
  2. Mike Romkey's Avatar
    Well, I use J74s, so no complaint. (g) It is a sign of genuine wisdom to realize one doesn't have time for everything and to consciously decide to focus on the area where one can do the most.